New York Jets Sam Darnold
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

New York Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates believes that Sam Darnold can start when he proves he’s the starter, whenever that may be.

Sam Darnold may be a rookie, but he already has an opportunity to compete for the starting job. New York Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is already excited about what he’s seeing from the rookie.

Bates told Rich Cimini of ESPN:

“Are we giving him bits and pieces of the offense or are we throwing everything at him? We’re throwing everything at him. If he can handle it, if he can prove that he’s the starter, then that will take place when the time comes.”

So by Bates saying that he will start when his time comes doesn’t mean that Darnold is definitely going to start Week 1—but it means that he’s definitely going to get a chance to start Week 1.

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Darnold seems to have hit the ground running and Bates told Cimini:

“If you treat them like a rookie, they’ll become a rookie, so we threw the whole book at him to see what he can handle and what he needs to work on — just like the other two — and he’s done a really good job,” Bates said of his new pupil. “Ever since rookie camp, he hasn’t flinched.”

Darnold has a wealth of talent, but he lacks the experience of the other quarterbacks on the roster. Josh McCown is the wily veteran going into his 16th year in the NFL. Teddy Bridgewater missed all of 2016 and most of 2017 with injury, but he’s going into his age-26 season and already has 28 career starts under his belt.

McCown and Bridgewater are safe options for the Jets to start this year. But Darnold is the guy who they hope can take them to new heights. If he continues to impress as the season draws near, the coaching staff is going to have a tough decision to make. Starting Darnold could be a gamble, but it could pay off in a big way.

We already know he’s surrounded by an underrated group of skill position players. The defense has tons of upside so they’ll likely be in a lot of close games. If the offensive line can play slightly above expectations, this season could be the perfect learning experience for Darnold. The complete turnaround may not happen this season, but it can’t hurt to let Darnold get a feel for the position.

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